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Biden Praises G20 Discussions as Summit Ends

President Biden said he encountered a “real eagerness” for American leadership in confronting global challenges during his meetings with world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Rome.

Because of what we’ve seen again here in Rome, what I think is the power of America showing up and working with our allies and partners to make progress in issues that matter to all of us. And there’s really no substitute for face-to-face discussions and negotiations among the leaders when it comes to building understanding and cooperation. I found in all of my meetings here, both the larger sessions and the one-on-one sessions, and I had many of those, a real eagerness among our partners and allies for American leadership to help bring the world together and solve some of these big problems. I’m proud that the G20 endorsed the global minimum tax. This is something the United States has been driving for for over a year, building momentum up to this achievement. And this is an incredible win for all our countries. Instead of nations competing against one another to attract investments by bottoming out corporate tax rates, this set a minimum floor of 15 percent to ensure that giant corporations begin to pay their fair share no matter where they’re headquartered, instead of hiding profits overseas. We also agreed to establish a fund in the future that countries can draw on to help prevent, if necessary, and respond to the next pandemic. The United States and the European Union have agreed to negotiate the world’s first trade agreement based on how much carbon is in a product. The deal will immediately remove a point of significant tension with our friends in the European Union, and it rejects the false idea that we cannot grow an economy and support American workers while tackling climate crisis at the same time. We’re talking about a lot, a lot during the G20, the COP26, but we also know tackling climate crisis has been an all-hands-on-deck effort.

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President Biden said he encountered a “real eagerness” for American leadership in confronting global challenges during his meetings with world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Rome. Credit Credit... Erin Schaff/The New York Times

ROME — President Biden, extolling what he called the “power of America showing up and working with our allies and partners,” marked the end of the G20 summit in Italy on Sunday by saying he had encountered a “real eagerness” for democratic leadership amid a warming climate and a lingering global pandemic.

“They listened,” Mr. Biden said, buoyed by a three-day diplomatic trip that offered him a respite from a political landscape where listening is in short supply. “Everyone sought me out. They wanted to know what our views were. We helped lead what happened here. The United States of America is the most critical part of this entire agenda, and we did it.”

Mr. Biden delivered his remarks at the end of a summit at which the world’s economic leaders voiced an increased commitment to work together but produced few concrete results beyond a landmark tax agreement that was years in the making. Still, it was one that Mr. Biden hailed as “an incredible win for all of our countries.”

Overall, however, the summit did little to move the needle on some of the world’s most pressing problems, especially global warming, even if it did offer Mr. Biden and his allies an opportunity to talk up the benefits of democratic cooperation as two rival leaders, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China, stayed home.

Pointedly, the president said there was “no substitute” for meeting in person and working through disagreements.

The lack of meaningful movement on climate change angered activists and perhaps foreshadowed the rough terrain Mr. Biden and other world leaders will face as they move on to their next summit: a high-stakes climate convention in Glasgow on Monday.

In an agreement reached Sunday, the G20 leaders pledged to end the financing of coal power plants — at least, in countries outside their own — and to “pursue efforts” to keep the average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.

“We remain committed to the Paris Agreement goal to hold the global average temperature increase well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels,” the leaders said in a statement.

But that commitment was largely symbolic, and the ink was barely dry on the G20 communiqué when advocacy groups began criticizing it.

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, called the agreement “weak,” saying it “lacked ambition and vision.” Jörn Kalinski, a senior adviser at Oxfam, said the pact was “muted, unambitious and lacking in concrete plans.”

Still, Mr. Biden was adamant that in-person negotiation had helped leaders make progress and move toward settling disputes. “We helped lead what happened here,” he said. “We got significant support here.”

Earlier in the day, Mr. Biden announced that he was signing an executive order on the defense stockpile that would “allow us to react respond more quickly to shortfalls” in the supply chain. But he said world leaders “need to work together” to unclog the bottlenecks that have stalled shipments of goods around the globe since the pandemic took hold.

Mr. Biden also unveiled a deal to roll back tariffs on European steel and aluminum, an accord between the United States and the European Union that he said would benefit American consumers and “prove to the world that democracies are taking on hard problems and delivering sound solutions.”

Mr. Biden traveled to Rome against backdrop of trouble back home.

With his domestic agenda stalled, a new NBC News poll shows that seven in 10 Americans, and almost half of Democrats, believe America is going in the wrong direction. The president has struggled to unify Democrats behind a $1.85 trillion economic and environmental spending plan, and in Rome on Sunday, he told reporters that he hoped to see a vote on both next week — “God willing.”

He struck a dismissive tone about the polls.

“The polls are going to go up and down and up and down,” Mr. Biden said. “Look at every other president. The same thing has happened. But that’s not why I ran.”

Mr. Biden, in response to a question, dwelled at some length upon his relationship with Pope Francis. The two men met at the Vatican on Friday.

When asked about the belief held by some conservative American Catholics that public officials like Mr. Biden who are Catholic but support legal access to abortion should be denied communion, Mr. Biden said it was “personal.”

He then spoke for several minutes about his admiration for Francis and recounted how the pope had counseled his family after the death of his eldest son, Beau, a tragedy he equated with losing “a real part of my soul.”

Choking up at moments, Mr. Biden said the pope had become “someone who has provided great solace for my family when my son died.”

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World leaders gathering in front of the Trevi fountain at the G20 summit on Sunday in Rome.
World leaders gathering in front of the Trevi fountain at the G20 summit on Sunday in Rome. Credit... Andreas Solaro/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Leaders of the Group of 20 nations sent a symbolic message on Sunday as one of the most important climate conferences began, pledging to “pursue efforts” to keep the average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.

While the mention of the number, seen as a critical threshold for limiting the severest effects of climate change, is a step forward, the leaders did not say how their countries would reduce their emissions more aggressively to achieve that goal.

“We remain committed to the Paris Agreement goal to hold the global average temperature increase well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, also as a means to enable the achievement of the 2030 Agenda,” the leaders said in a statement.

Saying they “look forward to a successful” climate conference, the leaders said, “We recognize that the impacts of climate change at 1.5°C are much lower than at 2°C.”

In addition, the G20 leaders pledged to end the public financing of coal power plants in countries outside their own.

However symbolic the commitment on 1.5 degrees is, it was not without significance, noted Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy. “Now, for the first time, all the countries of the G20” acknowledge the scientific merit of the 1.5.-degree goal, he said.

The scientific consensus is that if the average global temperature rises by 1.5 degrees Celsius — 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit — it will significantly increase the likelihood of far worse climate catastrophes that could exacerbate hunger, disease and conflict. That consensus came in a landmark report a few years after the Paris agreement was reached in 2015, which had set the goal at “well below” 2 degrees Celsius.

The language of the statement sends an important signal to the United Nations-led international climate summit that began in Glasgow on Sunday. Its host, Britain, and the United States have made the 1.5-degree goal something of a rallying cry.

G20 nations account for the vast majority of the local greenhouse gas emissions warming the planet, and they hold the key to averting the worst consequences of global warming.

“Keeping 1.5°C within reach,” the leaders said in their statement Sunday, “will require meaningful and effective actions and commitment by all countries, taking into account different approaches, through the development of clear national pathways that align long-term ambition with short- and medium-term goals, and with international cooperation and support, including finance and technology, sustainable and responsible consumption and production as critical enablers, in the context of sustainable development.

At the moment, however, achieving a 1.5-degree cap is a highly ambitious goal.

Even if all countries achieve the targets they set for themselves in the Paris Agreement, average global temperatures are on track to rise by 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Reaching the target would require big polluting countries to strengthen those targets, or Nationally Determined Contributions, as they are known, by committing to reduce emissions much faster between now and 2030.

The leaders committed “to take further action this decade” and to update their plans as necessary.

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A man sitting on a protective sandbag wall this month in Guraidhoo, Maldives.
A man sitting on a protective sandbag wall this month in Guraidhoo, Maldives. Credit... Allison Joyce/Getty Images

On Sunday night came a glimpse of the passions world leaders are likely to face over the next days in Glasgow as they meet to grapple with a warming world.

No sooner had Group of 20 leaders put out a 17-page communiqué outlining what they were willing to do to address climate change than they were hit with a flurry of criticism, some of it from veteran statesmen who barely hid their disappointment.

Mohamed Nasheed, a former prime minister of the Maldives who now leads a group of countries called the Climate Vulnerable Forum, singled out the G20’s failure to be more ambitious about phasing out coal.

“This is a welcome start,” Mr. Nasheed said in an emailed statement. “But it won’t stop the climate from heating more than 1.5 degrees and devastating large parts of the world, including the Maldives. G20 countries need to look at decommissioning coal plants at home and repowering their coal fleet infrastructure with clean energy.”

The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, in the equivalent of a diplomatic shaking of the head, said the G20 summit had not, “at least,” sunk his hopes.

“While I welcome the #G20’s recommitment to global solutions, I leave Rome with my hopes unfulfilled — but at least they are not buried,” he tweeted. “Onwards to #COP26 in Glasgow to keep the goal of 1.5 degrees alive and to implement promises on finance and adaptation for people planet.”

The G20 members represent the world’s 20 largest economies, which together produce the vast majority of the greenhouse gas emissions warming the planet.

In a communiqué issued at the end of their summit. they pledged to stop the overseas financing of coal plants but said nothing about exiting their own domestic production and use of coal.

The statement did include an important, if symbolic, message about the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a critical threshold for averting the worst effects of climate change. But it said nothing about whether their countries would set new national climate commitments to reach that goal.

The G20 is made up of the world’s biggest fossil fuel producers and users, ranging from Australia (a key exporter of coal) to India (a big producer of coal) to China (by far the world’s coal juggernaut).

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, was less diplomatic than some of the other critics who emerged at the end of the G20 summit.

“If the G20 was a dress rehearsal” for the U.N. gathering in Glasgow, she said, “then world leaders fluffed their lines.”

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President Biden and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey meeting at the G20 summit on Sunday in Rome.
President Biden and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey meeting at the G20 summit on Sunday in Rome. Credit... Erin Schaff/The New York Times

President Biden met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on Sunday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome, amid severe strains in relations between the NATO allies.

The second meeting between the two since Mr. Biden’s inauguration came just days after Mr. Erdogan had threatened to expel 10 diplomats, including the American ambassador, for calling for the release of a jailed Turkish philanthropist. That dispute was resolved with an exchange of diplomatic statements, but underlined how volatile the relationship remains.

The meeting on Sunday ended without any result except to keep talking, reflecting a recognition of their need to engage despite the breadth of disagreements, largely in view of Turkey’s influence in several critical regions, including Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkish news media played up the length of the meeting, which lasted more than an hour, and reported a government official saying that it was held in a “very positive atmosphere.”

Points of dispute between the leaders remain large, especially over Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system. Mr. Erdogan has refused to step back from the purchase, despite sanctions and expulsion from a U.S. defense program to develop the F-35 stealth fighter jet.

But facing pressure at home over a deteriorating economy from a strengthened opposition, Mr. Erdogan is looking for a deal to replace the F-35 program and has asked to purchase new, U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to update its fleet with money it had already spent for the F-35s.

A senior Biden administration official said that the president “took on board” Mr. Erdogan’s desire to procure F-16s, “but made very clear that there is a process that we have to go through in the U.S., and committed to continuing to work through that process.” Congressional authorization is required for the sale.

A U.S. statement released after the meeting said that Mr. Biden “noted U.S. concerns over Turkey’s possession of the Russian S-400 missile system. He also emphasized the importance of strong democratic institutions, respect for human rights, and the rule of law for peace and prosperity.”

A Turkish statement said the two sides agreed to bolster trade, and continue to strengthen and develop strategic ties. But with no further bilateral meetings planned, the talks showed that “this is no longer a core strategic relationship for either side,” said Asli Aydintasbas, senior fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“Both want to manage it, and the Biden administration is keen to avoid new crises with Turkey,” she said.

Mr. Erdogan has not been able to deflect other disputes that have badly dented his country’s investment climate, including a Justice Department case that accuses the state-owned lender Halkbank of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and the inclusion of Turkey on a global money laundering “gray list” for failing to do enough to curb terrorist financing.

Ahead of the meeting, officials had said that the leaders would discuss regional issues including the conflict in Syria, where Mr. Erdogan has threatened another incursion to push back Syrian government forces and allies from an area close to the Turkish border.

Afghanistan, where Turkey has been meeting with the ruling Taliban in an attempt to encourage them to adopt a more moderate stance, and Libya, where Ankara intervened militarily to support the government in Tripoli, were discussed, officials said.

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Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit on Sunday in Rome.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit on Sunday in Rome. Credit... Pool photo by Tiziana Fabi

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of the G20 in Rome on Sunday morning, having what the State Department described as a candid but apparently less confrontational exchange of views than in previous meetings.

The meeting took place at the residence where Mr. Wang stayed and lasted an hour, setting the stage for a “virtual meeting” being planned between President Biden and China’s leader, Xi Jinping, according to a senior State Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The two leaders have agreed to hold the meeting before the end of the year, but the official said that no date or agenda had been set. The official noted that conducting the meeting virtually was a concession to the fact that Mr. Xi has not traveled outside China since the coronavirus began to spread from Wuhan in January 2020.

“Secretary Blinken underscored the importance of maintaining open lines of communication to responsibly manage the competition between the United States and the People’s Republic of China,” the State Department said in a statement.

Only days ago, Chinese officials excoriated Mr. Blinken in particular for suggesting that Taiwan should be allowed a role at the United Nations and other international bodies. The People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s main newspaper, warned that Mr. Blinken had “once again crossed China’s red line” on Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory.

Sunday’s meeting did not resolve any of the differences over those and other fundamental issues, but Mr. Blinken reiterated that the administration has not altered its policy toward Taiwan, which includes providing political support.

In an interview with CNN, Mr. Blinken was pressed several times on whether the United States had told Taiwan it would come to the tiny democracy’s defense if invaded by mainland China. Mr. Blinken sidestepped giving a direct answer by saying that “there is no change in our policy” in ensuring that “Taiwan has the means to defend itself.”

“We want to make sure that no one takes any unilateral action that would disrupt the status quo with regard to Taiwan — that hasn’t changed,” Mr. Blinken said on “State of the Union.”

The State Department’s statement said that Mr. Blinken raised concerns over Chinese actions “that undermine the international rules-based order and that run counter to our values and interests and those of our allies,” including rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. The two men also discussed several areas where the United States and China hoped to make progress toward political resolutions, including Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea and Myanmar.

When Mr. Blinken and Mr. Wang first met in Alaska in March, they had a testy public exchange, signaling a souring of relations that the Chinese hoped would improve after the departure of President Donald J. Trump.

In a separate interview with CBS, Mr. Blinken said world leaders needed to make sure that China and other major polluters “actually step up and do the right thing” to curb climate change. China is the world’s largest emitter of fossil fuel carbon dioxide, and its updated targets for fighting climate change, as formalized last week, go no further than what Mr. Xi pledged nearly a year ago.

Asked what might motivate China to do more, Mr. Blinken said, “the No. 1 interest is in not being a world outlier.”

“Their own people would benefit dramatically from China taking the necessary steps on climate change,” Mr. Blinken said on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “So would the international community. To the extent that China cares about how it’s seen in the world, it also needs to think about stepping up.”

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, right, and President Emmanuel Macron of France, at the Trevi Fountain during the G20 summit in Rome, on Sunday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, right, and President Emmanuel Macron of France, at the Trevi Fountain during the G20 summit in Rome, on Sunday. Credit... Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters

President Emmanuel Macron of France and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain appeared to make little progress on Sunday in a dispute over fishing rights that has worsened relations between the two nations.

The leaders met for half an hour on the margins of the G20 summit in Rome, three days after France detained a British trawler and Britain summoned France’s ambassador for talks in response.

While France said that both sides would work toward de-escalating the dispute over the next few days, a spokesperson for Mr. Johnson later told journalists that Britain’s position had not changed.

The dispute stems from a monthslong disagreement over post-Brexit fishing rights in British waters. Britain has refused access to dozens of French boats, and France warned last week that it would close most of its ports to British fishing boats by Nov. 2 if the situation did not improve.

It was the first meeting between the two leaders since a diplomatic crisis over a submarine deal plunged bilateral relations to their lowest in years.

In September, Britain, the United States and Australia announced an agreement to develop nuclear-powered submarines for Australia, which abruptly canceled a contract with France to build conventional submarines.

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Rome’s unique La Nuvola conference center is designed to look like a cloud.
Rome’s unique La Nuvola conference center is designed to look like a cloud. Credit... Claudio Peri/EPA, via Shutterstock

The G20 is taking place at one of the latest additions to Rome’s storied architectural fabric: Rome’s newish Convention Center, aptly named “La Nuvola,” or cloud, because it contains an enormous cloudlike structure that appears as though suspended within a gigantic, mostly transparent, glass and steel outer shell.

The floating structure is actually an 1,800-seat auditorium where the plenary sessions have been taking place. Seen from up close, a gigantic cocoon comes to mind, covered by 15,000 square meters of flame retardant material that can change color on command.

The Convention Center was inaugurated in 2016, some 18 years from its conception on the drawing board of the husband-and-wife architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas.

The pandemic upended scheduled events, but many Romans still got a chance to visit the space during the seven months that it was one of Rome’s most active vaccination hubs, with more than a half million doses administered here.

“On leaving, many people would say: ‘It doesn’t feel like Italy,’ ” said Antonio Rosati, the managing director of EUR Spa, the public real estate development company that manages the convention center. But, he added, any Romans were able to discover a “marvelous place.”

The vaccination hub closed on Sept. 30, and the Convention Center reopened to the public earlier this month with a concert in the auditorium by Patti Smith.

Now the G20 is offering the convention center a more global platform.

“Along with the government, we’re trying to ‘fare bella figura,’” said Mr. Rosati, using an Italian term that in this case goes beyond its literal meaning of “making a good impression” to become an expression of national pride. The G20 “will help us attract big congresses in the future” and give greater visibility to the center and its surroundings, a distinct quarter about five miles south of the center of Rome.

It was designed under Mussolini, who had envisioned a suburban neighborhood of oversized marble palazzos and grand boulevards, a contemporary companion to the glories of imperial Rome. It was to debut in 1942 as the site of a world fair, but that plan was also upended by unpredictable events, in that case World War II.

And five years after its inauguration, the cement and wire fences that surrounded some of the building, giving a strong do-not-cross-vibe, were removed for the G20, finally giving access to a long-promised public square.

“We will have a great agora, and everything will be more beautiful,” Mr. Rosati said.

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Cargo containers at the Port of Savannah in Georgia last month.
Cargo containers at the Port of Savannah in Georgia last month. Credit... Erin Schaff/The New York Times

President Biden announced an executive order on Sunday that allows the federal government to release critical materials from its National Defense Stockpile, in an effort to help relieve the supply-chain pressures that have hampered manufacturers and frustrated consumers in the wake of the pandemic recession.

As the president convened a supply-chain minisummit with allies on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meetings, administration officials also said the United States would send aid to Mexico and Central American nations to ease “disruptions and bottlenecks.”

And they said Secretary of State Antony K. Blinken and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo would host an international summit on supply-chain challenges next year.

The clogged flow of goods caused by the pandemic has triggered product shortages and rising consumer prices across the globe, and it has caused the president economic and political headaches at home. Mr. Biden has taken a wide rage of steps to try to help ease the pressures, but many of them, including the actions announced on Sunday, are unlikely to provide meaningful immediate relief.

The meeting Mr. Biden hosted in Rome included 14 countries, White House officials said, among them China, a major supplier of goods to the United States.

As the meeting began, Mr. Biden noted how easily the transport of goods was thrown into disarray by the pandemic.

“We cannot go back to business as usual,” he said. “Coordination is key.”

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Storms brought record rainfall to the southern region of the Italian island and killed three people around the city of Catania. Credit Credit... Sanne Derks/Getty Images

As G20 leaders gathered in Rome, a violent cyclone struck the Italian island of Sicily this week, causing violent storms and flooding in one of the extreme weather events that have become increasingly common.

On Friday, the Apollo cyclone brought record rain to Sicily’s southern area, comparable to the amount usually registered in three or four months, flooding streets and damaging houses.

“The cyclone in Sicily is a dramatic message to the G20,” said Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, a former environment minister. “There is no more time.”

“We have a city in total chaos,” said Michele Dell’Aira, a civil protection official in Siracusa, a major city also on Sicily’s eastern coast, where volunteers used dinghies to rescue residents from flooded homes. “These weather events are more and more unpredictable.”

Storms in the region started last week, and the flood killed three people in the area around the city of Catania. There, more than 20 inches of rain fell in two days. The mayor closed shops and schools and asked everyone to stay home as a torrent of water and mud flowed among the city’s baroque churches, tearing down orange trees and destroying the olive harvest.

“Water did not leave anything untouched,” said Francesco Guasto, a volunteer in the area.

Over the weekend, the situation in the area improved, but on Saturday some streets remained inaccessible because of water.

Antonio Navarra, a professor of meteorology and oceanography and the president of the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change, said that while he could not directly attribute the storms to global warming, climate change was making these adverse events more extreme and frequent.

He hoped G20 leaders would act to reduce carbon emissions.

“It’s the common good,” he said. “We all have an interest for things to improve.”

Many of the protests on Saturday in Rome at the Group of 20 summit focused on the threat posed by climate change. The leaders gathered there, including President Biden, were discussing that issue, as well as moving toward a more equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines and a global minimum tax for corporations.

The New York Times

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A helicopter flying on Thursday over La Nuvola convention center, where the Group of 20 summit is taking place in Rome this weekend.
A helicopter flying on Thursday over La Nuvola convention center, where the Group of 20 summit is taking place in Rome this weekend. Credit... Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

The annual Group of 20 summit meeting, which brings together President Biden and other world leaders, is intended to foster global economic cooperation. But with so many top officials in one place, it also serves as an all-purpose jamboree of nonstop formal and informal diplomatic activity.

This year’s meeting is taking place in Rome on Saturday and Sunday and is expected covering issues like climate change, the global supply chain, the pandemic and the chaotic withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. If the members can reach consensus on such subjects, they will produce an official joint declaration at the end.

Here is a look at what the Group of 20 is and does, and some of the important things to watch during the summit.

What is the G20?

The Group of 20 is an organization of finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 individual countries and the European Union.

In addition to the United States, those countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey. Collectively, its members represent more than 80 percent of the world’s economic output.

Established in 1999 after a series of major international debt crises, the G20 aims to unite world leaders around shared economic, political and health challenges. It is a creation of the more select Group of 7, an informal bloc of industrialized democracies.

Supporters argue that as national economies grow ever more globalized, it is essential that political and finance leaders work closely together.

What is the G20 summit?

Formally the “Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy,” the G20 meeting is an annual gathering of finance ministers and heads of state representing the members.

It bills itself as the “premier forum for international economic cooperation.” The heads of state first convened officially in November 2008 as the global financial crisis began to unfold.

The annual summit meeting is hosted by the nation that holds the rotating presidency; this year, it’s Italy.

What happens at a G20 summit?

It is focused on several core issues around which its leaders hope to reach a consensus for collective action.

The goal is to conclude the two-day gathering by issuing a joint statement committing its members to action, although the declaration is not legally binding. But one-on-one meetings can overshadow official business.

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President Biden with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Emmanuel Macron of France and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain at the G20 summit on Saturday in Rome.
President Biden with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Emmanuel Macron of France and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain at the G20 summit on Saturday in Rome. Credit... Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Fresh off a win on Saturday with a global corporate tax agreement and some progress toward restoring the nuclear accord with Iran, President Biden returned for the final day of the Group of 20 summit on Sunday facing far more difficult challenges, including pressure to take stronger action on climate change and to make concrete progress on delivering Covid vaccines to the poorest countries.

The difficult agenda facing the leaders of 20 of the wealthiest nations, their first in-person meeting since the pandemic began, illustrated a widening divide with developing countries. Those nations say that industrialized countries have hoarded vaccines and squandered decades of opportunities to slow the warming of the planet.

On Sunday evening, as the summit drew to a close, Mario Draghi, prime minister of the host country, declared the gathering “a success,” and said he had observed a marked difference from previous years. In the past, Mr. Draghi said, leaders seemed less able to work together.

“Something changed,” he said.

After the summit in Rome, Mr. Biden and other leaders will travel to Glasgow for a United Nations climate conference, where they will confront demands from scientific experts and many developing countries to rapidly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for heating the planet. The talks in Glasgow, known as COP26, come as the U.N. warns of a looming climate catastrophe and are shaping up as a test of whether global cooperation is even possible to address a crisis that does not recognize national borders.

A senior administration official told reporters on Saturday evening that American negotiators were pushing for concrete progress from the summit on reducing methane emissions, decarbonizing the global power sector and ending international financing for coal projects.

For Mr. Biden, who has staked his presidency on his ability to forge consensus at home and abroad, the return to in-person diplomacy presented an opportunity for good news after weeks of negative headlines.

His struggles included the battle to unify Democrats in Congress behind his huge economic and environmental spending plan, as well as trying to manage the fallout from the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. He began the weekend in Rome by smoothing things over with President Emmanuel Macron of France, acknowledging that the administration’s handling of a submarine deal had been “clumsy.”

Mr. Biden faced a trickier meeting on Sunday morning with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, amid tensions over Ankara’s threats to expel ambassadors from the United States and other nations and its purchase of a Russian missile-defense system. A senior Biden administration official told reporters in Rome that the meeting would cover a range of topics, including Syria, Libya and Turkey’s desire to acquire U.S.-made F16 jets.

Despite the tensions, the two leaders were seen chatting several times at the summit on Saturday, with Mr. Biden gesturing animatedly at Mr. Erdogan before all 20 leaders posed for the customary “family photo.”

Mr. Biden has reveled in the return to backslapping American diplomacy, and on Saturday he scored a victory as leaders endorsed a landmark deal that seeks to block large corporations from shifting profits and jobs across borders to avoid taxes. The global agreement to set minimum levels of corporate taxation is aimed at stopping companies from sheltering revenue in tax havens like Bermuda.

Also on Saturday, Mr. Biden met with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain to discuss rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear pact, which President Donald J. Trump abandoned. While Mr. Biden said that the Iran talks — one of his most elusive diplomatic goals — were “scheduled to resume,” the other leaders walked back his statement, saying that they “welcome President Biden’s clearly demonstrated commitment to return the U.S. to full compliance” with the agreement.

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Prince Charles Urges Climate Action Ahead of COP26 Summit

Addressing world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Rome, Prince Charles called the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow “the last-chance saloon” for averting the worst outcomes of climate change.

Ladies and gentlemen, COP26 begins in Glasgow tomorrow. Quite literally, it is the last chance saloon. We must now translate fine words into still finer actions. And as the enormity of the climate challenge dominates people’s conversations from newsrooms to living rooms, and as the future of humanity in nature herself are at stake, it is surely time to set aside our differences and grasp this unique opportunity to launch a substantial green recovery by putting the global economy on a confident, sustainable trajectory and thus save our planet.

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Addressing world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Rome, Prince Charles called the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow “the last-chance saloon” for averting the worst outcomes of climate change. Credit Credit... Pool photo by Aaron Chown

Prince Charles called for “a military-style campaign” to combat climate change during an address to world leaders at the COP26 summit on Monday.

His remarks built on comments in Rome, where he described the conference that began on Monday as “the last-chance saloon” to avoid the most severe effects from climate change.

“The future of humanity and nature herself is at stake,” said Charles, who is known as the Prince of Wales and is the heir to the British throne.

“It is also impossible not to hear the despairing voices of young people who see you, ladies and gentlemen, as the stewards of the planet holding the viability of their future in your hands,” he told world leaders assembled at the Group of 20 summit in Rome on Sunday. He reminded them that they had an “overwhelming responsibility to generations yet unborn.”

He said that adequately addressing climate change would require “trillions of dollars of investment every year to create the necessary new infrastructure and meet the vital 1.5-degree climate target that will save our forests and farms, our oceans and wildlife.”

“Now,” he said, “after I suppose nearly 50 years of trying to raise awareness of the growing climate and environmental crisis, I am at last sensing a changing of attitude and a building up of positive momentum.”

The prince’s mother, Queen Elizabeth II, was initially scheduled to attend the climate meeting but is skipping it after being advised by her doctors to rest.

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Shipping containers at the Port of Felixstowe, England, in October.
Shipping containers at the Port of Felixstowe, England, in October. Credit... Joe Giddens/Press Association, via Associated Press

Computer chips. Exercise equipment. Breakfast cereal. By now, you’ve probably heard: The world has run short of a great many products.

In an era in which many people have become accustomed to clicking and waiting for whatever they desire to arrive at their doors, they have experienced the shock of not being able to buy toilet paper, having to wait months for curtains and needing to compromise on the color of new cars.

Of far greater importance, they have suffered a pandemic without adequate protective gear. Doctors cannot obtain needed medicines. In Alaska, people are struggling to find enough winter coats. Airplanes are delayed while crews wait for food deliveries.

With world leaders gathered at this weekend’s G20 summit, where the issue of supply chains is on the agenda, here is a look at how the global system of making and moving goods became so broken.

Why is this happening?

The pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of the global supply chain — the usually invisible pathway of manufacturing, transportation and logistics that gets goods from where they are manufactured, mined or grown to where they are going. At the end of the chain is another company or a consumer who has paid for the finished product.

Scarcity has caused the prices of many things to increase.

When did this start?

The disruptions go back to early last year.

Factories in parts of the world where a lot of the globe’s manufacturing capacity sits — places like China, South Korea and Taiwan as well as Southeast Asian nations like Vietnam and European industrial giants like Germany — were hit hard by the spread of coronavirus cases. Many factories shut down or reduced production because workers were sick or in lockdown.

In response, shipping companies cut their schedules in anticipation of a drop in demand for moving goods around the world.

But while demand for some things cratered, Americans spent heavily on their homes, which were suddenly doubling as offices and classrooms. The timing and quantity of consumer purchases swamped the system.

Why couldn’t factories just produce more?

Many did, but this produced its own troubles.

Factories generally need to bring in components to make the things they export, and the surge in demand clogged the system for transporting goods to the factories that needed them.

At the same time, finished products — many of them made in China — piled up in warehouses and at ports throughout Asia because of a profound shortage of shipping containers.

The shipping containers essentially got stuck in the wrong places. And because containers were scarce and demand for shipping intense, the cost of moving cargo skyrocketed. At the same time, truck drivers and dockworkers were stuck in quarantine, reducing the availability of people to unload goods and further slowing the process.

This situation was worsened by the shutdown of the Suez Canal after a giant container ship got stuck there, and then by the closings of major ports in China in response to new Covid-19 cases.